You know the problem with the Diary of Anne Frank? Not enough sex scenes. Well, luckily, that's about to change:
Author Now Sharon Dogar, a popular teen author, has written Annexed: The Incredible Story of the Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, a novel that takes the form of the diaries of Peter van Pels, the teenage boy who was one of the residents of the attic where the Franks lived and became romatically involved with Anne. Here's the publisher's description:
Everyone knows about Anne Frank, and her life hidden in the secret annexe - or do they? Peter van Pels and his family are locked away in there with the Franks, and Peter sees it all differently. He's a boy, and for a boy it's just not the same. What is it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, to hate her and then find yourself falling in love with her? To know you're being written about in her diary, day after day? What's it like to sit and wait and watch whilst others die, and you wish you were fighting? How can Anne and Peter try to make sense of one of the most devastating episodes in recent history - the holocaust? Anne's diary ends on August 4 1944, but Peter's story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion, the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz - and the terrible conclusion. It's a story rooted firmly in history and it asks a question of us all: Are we listening? 'Is anybody there?' Peter cries from the depths of his despair in the camps. Read it, and you will be.
If you've read the original diaries, you'll recall that Anne and Peter's relationship consists of a lot of talking, a growing affection, and a chaste kiss. However, Charlie Sheppard, editorial director of Andersen Press, which is publishing Annexed, said that Dogar "feels they had sex, but this was taken out from an earlier version." Based on this gut instinct, Dogar has taken the liberty of reinstating sex between the teens - a logistical as well as a creative challenge, one imagines - even as she concedes that the consummation is "pure conjecture."
Dogar's argument is presumably based on the fact that Otto Frank, Anne's father, edited the diaries for publication. However, even were that by some chance the truth, Frank's surviving cousin, who's seen the novel, claim she gets other things wrong. Says Buddy Elias, "Anne was not the child she is in this book. I also do not think that their terrible destiny should be used to invent some fictitious story. From what Otto told me about Peter, he was very shy but in this book he is given a character he did not possess."
It's fiction, and Dogar can make up anything she likes. The taste level may be arguable - so far it's only out in the UK, and I have not yet read it - but my main thought was, why? Anne Frank's diary is a genuine and beautiful piece of writing purely because of its authenticity. Much of its power comes from the very uneventfulness of their limited existences, and I don't know why you'd want to disregard that. Dogar is a sensitive writer, and her Falling and Waves are good novels - but not short on the sensuality. I'm not guessing this'll do any damage to Frank's legacy, but it could open the floodgates for a bizarre subgenre. Besides which: having seen the "Mamet-does-Frank" parody, there's really no point in anyone else even trying to take on Frank fan fiction.